2003: Clemson’s Jones makes name for himself

By Jay A. Coffin

Sea Island, Ga.

The Jones Cup quickly turned into Gregg Jones’ cup.

Jones, a 21-year-old junior from Clemson, birdied four of the first five holes Feb. 2 to gain control of the final round in sunny, ideal scoring conditions at Ocean Forest Golf Club. Although he closed his round with consecutive bogeys to shoot 70, it was still enough to win by two over Florida freshman James Vargas. Jones shot 69-72-70 for a 5-under-par 211 total. Vargas shot 68, the low round of the day, and finished at 213.

“I really didn’t have any expectations this week only because I haven’t played a lot,” Jones said. “I am pretty happy with this, but it was a long day.”

Early in the final round it appeared as if a low score was there for the taking with birdies being made by the handfuls. Jones, Matt McQuillan and Brent Delahoussaye, playing in the final group, made eight birdies combined in the first three holes. Tim Jackson, playing in the group ahead with Vargas and Jamie Elson, birdied the first three holes.

But Jones remained steady as his pursuers found difficulties. Jackson, the 1994 and 2001 U.S. Mid-Amateur champion, made bogey on Nos. 8, 9 and 10, McQuillan made double bogey on No. 9 and Delahoussaye bogeyed the 11th hole to move to 1 over for the day.

Vargas, who began the day tied for sixth, emerged to challenge Jones midway through the back nine when he made birdie on the par-5 14th. Minutes later, Jones three-putted for bogey on the same hole, shrinking his lead to two shots. However, Vargas three-putted for bogey on the par-3 15th and Jones made birdie from 3 feet to put the contest out of reach.

“I played solid,” said Vargas, who turned 19 Feb. 6. “I hit a couple of loose shots and was able to get away with some.”

Delahoussaye, a 21-year-old redshirt junior at Clemson, and McQuillan, a 21-year-old junior at Georgia, both shot 73 and tied for third at 215. Jackson, 43, shot 73 to finish fifth.

Elson, the first-round co-leader, was battling for second until he made a triple-bogey 6 on the 225-yard, par-3 17th hole. He shot 74, finishing sixth.

“That messed my whole day up basically,” Elson said. “It was a bit misfortunate.”

The Jones Cup, named after the Jones family that has owned and operated the Sea Island Co. since the 1930s, will be played in odd-numbered years, mostly to attract top international players in Walker Cup years.

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